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Legal Capacity Building Project ends

Jun 8, 2011, 1:23 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The Legal Capacity Building Programme (LCBP) Phase II funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) has ended this June, with observers describing it as a success story in terms of strengthening the justice delivery system in The Gambia in various ways.

The three-year project was, among others, aimed at ensuring that the Gambian legal system is strengthened through the introduction of incremental reforms that will improve efficiency and effectiveness, and better ensure access to justice by the poor.

Among others, it focused on three main areas and institutions, namely the Judiciary, Ministry of Justice and the Gambia Bar Association, which benefitted from capacity building for the staff and provision of computer equipment, and other important support.

Confirming the end of the project to journalists in his office in Banjul yesterday, Robert Neil Hutley, the project manager, said the project started three years ago and ended on 1 June 2011.

“We have worked very closely with three institutions namely, the Judiciary of the Gambia, Ministry of Justice, and the Gambia Bar Association.

According to him, “on the technology side, the project funded and rolled out a computer-assisted transcription system for three of the high courts,” he said, adding that this will generally improve efficiency in the system.

Hutley, who spent almost 30 years in the legal field, also stated that the scheme funded the work of six additional judges for a six-month period to concentrate on clearing the backlog of cases at the High Court. This, he noted, has helped to clear some of the backlog of cases at the High Court of The Gambia.

Concerning the Judiciary, Hurley said the project assisted the Judiciary in developing a comprehensive strategic plan.

“We also put in a significant amount of training for the judges, magistrates, district tribunals and for the administrative staff and management of the Judiciary,” he announced.

“The LCBP has also funded the services of three Supreme Court judges. We also supported the Solicitor-General in scouting for prosecutors for the AG’s Chambers,” he added.

For the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Hutley said, through the LCBP project, they established a comprehensive law library at the Ministry with legal textbooks and computers, adding that they also trained state and police prosecutors.

The LCBP has supported the Gambia Bar Association by establishing an independent office for the Bar. “We also assisted them with IT equipment and developed a comprehensive strategic plan,” he further noted.

In his view, there is no justice system in the world that cannot be improved, and all need room for improvement. He believes that the LCBP had a positive impact on the Gambian judicial system, while underscoring that the success of the project would not have been possible without the positive response of the institutions concerned.

Also speaking to reporters was Sanna Dahaba, project coordinator of LCBP II, who said the objective of DfID’s support was to ensure that the Gambian legal system was strengthened through the introduction of incremental reforms that will improve efficiency and effectiveness. This, he added, will better ensure access to justice by the poor.

According to Dahaba, phase II of the project will continue to develop the progress gained in phase I (2004-2007).

“It will support DfID’s overall policy in The Gambia, which focuses on promoting human rights and participatory processes, and achieving better performance against international development targets through the PRSP framework,” Dahaba added.